Asbestos Diseases: Asbestosis

Asbestos Diseases: Asbestosis

Asbestos was once used throughout the world as a highly efficient building material – it was cheap, and it had excellent sound and heat insulation properties.

Nowadays, many countries have banned the importation, manufacture and use of asbestos, which is the case in the UK. However, many properties are still fitted with asbestos building materials and if they are not properly maintained they can cause a great many illnesses and diseases.

There are six different types of asbestos disease:

Asbestosis Pleural mesothelioma Peritoneal mesothelioma Testicular mesothelioma Pericardial mesothelioma Lung cancer (Image courtesy of

What is asbestosis?

Asbestosis is one of the many diseases that asbestos can cause. Asbestosis is diagnosed when asbestos fibres have caused chronic scarring of the lungs. The disease is fatal, as it greatly reduces the patient’s lung capacity and ability to breathe naturally.

Who can be diagnosed with asbestosis?

Anyone can be diagnosed with asbestosis, although older people are usually the most-commonly diagnosed. This is because asbestosis can take a good 15-35 years to develop after initial exposure, which means patients are often past middle age by the time they notice symptoms.

What are the symptoms of asbestosis?

There are very few symptoms of asbestosis, which is one of the reasons why it can be so hard to diagnose. The disease is also quite rare, meaning that extensive research has not been possible.

The main asbestosis symptoms include:

Chest pain Shortness of breath Persistent cough Swollen fingers How is asbestosis diagnosed?

Asbestosis diagnosis begins with your GP listening to your lungs. If there is a crackling noise as you breath in (which can only be heard through a stethoscope), you will be referred for further testing.

Specialists will ascertain how damaged your lungs are and what your lung capacity is. They will also take your work history into account to find out whether you have ever worked in close proximity to asbestos products.

The following tests may be carried out in order to diagnose asbestosis:

CT scans Chest xrays Lung function testing How is asbestosis treated?

Sadly, an asbestosis treatment is yet to be discovered. It is currently an incurable disease and nothing can be done to reverse the effects of the asbestos.

However, patients can undertake certain lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life, and they will be given regular checkups with specialists to monitor their lung capacity.

Asbestosis lifestyle changes include:

Quitting smoking Getting regular vaccinations to reduce the chances of infection from other illnesses. Oxygen therapy – some patients must have access to 24 hour oxygen machines, while others only need to use them occasionally. What is the prognosis for asbestosis patients?

It can be difficult to give an accurate asbestosis prognosis, as there are no many different factors that need to be taken into account. The extent of the lung damage and the lung’s present capacity need to be considered before a doctor can report on a patient’s asbestosis life expectancy.

However, severe cases of asbestosis can greatly reduce a patient’s life expectancy.

The content of this site is intended to inform, not to diagnose. If you believe that you may have symptoms similar to those experienced by asbestosis patients, Northern Insulation Contractors advises you to visit your GP immediately.

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